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Africa's solar energy industry accelerates development

Recent data released by the African Solar Energy Industry Association show that the African solar energy industry is ushering in a period of accelerated development. In the past two months alone, many African countries have announced a total of nearly 2 GW of large and medium-sized solar power plant projects, of which 18 countries are planning to construct solar-related industrial infrastructure including power storage in the same period. It is worth noting that some African countries have begun to try to use more advanced solar energy industry technology to keep up with the rapid development of global clean energy.
As the first country on the African continent to achieve more than 1 GW of solar power generation, South Africa signed a large solar energy order last month. A Norwegian renewable energy developer won the bid for two projects of the South African Ministry of Energy-a solar power project with an installed capacity of 540 MW and a battery energy storage project with 1.14 GW. During the 20-year contract period, the two projects will provide dispatchable power to the South African power grid between 5 am and 9:30 pm every day. The conclusion of this agreement is considered to be a large-scale non-carbon industry bidding conducted by the South African government to solve the long-term power shortage problem, and has attracted great attention from the industry.
Among the African countries that have accelerated the development of the solar energy industry in recent years, Zambia has joined the leading ranks of multiple types of photovoltaic power generation. At the end of July, China Water Resources and Hydropower Construction Co., Ltd. won the bid for the civil engineering part of the Zambia Concentrated Solar Power Project. The power station will use a large number of reflectors to gather the energy of sunlight into the heat transfer medium, and transfer the heat energy to the steam turbine inlet steam through the heat exchange device, and finally produce 200 megawatts of power generation. In 2019, the price of solar power in Zambia fell to the lowest level ever in sub-Saharan Africa, at less than US$40 per MWh, which also promoted the further expansion of the industry. Currently, the scale of solar photovoltaic power generation projects under construction in Zambia is close to 500 megawatts.
Recent solar projects that the African Solar Energy Industry Association is concerned about also include projects in Togo, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Namibia. Even in the small island country of West Africa, Sao Tome and Principe, a small 550-kilowatt solar power station is under construction.
According to the African solar energy market report released at the Munich International Solar Energy Exhibition last year, the African solar energy industry has great potential for development. Although the current capacity of solar power plants in Africa only accounts for 1% of the total global capacity, if the development speed of the solar energy industry in Africa keeps up with the pace of other parts of the world, by 2030, the installed photovoltaic capacity of the African continent will reach 170 GW. Judging from the figures in the past three years, the fastest growing regions of photovoltaic power generation in the world are Europe, the Middle East and Africa, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. Global financial investment in photovoltaic power generation has boosted the development of related industries. According to the European Solar Energy Industry Association's forecast, between 2020 and 2024, the installed capacity of the solar market in sub-Saharan Africa will increase substantially, and it is conservatively estimated that it will increase the power generation by 21 GW.
Wesley Douglas, director of the African Carbon Exchange, said in an interview with the media that most countries in Africa are in a critical period of energy transition, and there is a huge gap in industrial electricity consumption. At the same time, about half of the African population has no access to electricity, and the cost is relatively low. Low and scalable solar energy is an important solution to speed up this process. Douglas emphasized that Africa has a vast territory and uneven regional development, but the relatively consistent feature is that it is rich in solar resources and can absorb solar energy industry investments of various types, scales and technical characteristics. Africa is expected to become a key area for the rapid development of the global solar energy industry.
News source: (Our newspaper, Johannesburg, August 12)
"People's Daily" (August 13, 2021 16th edition)
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